Disciplinary Board Implements Open System Rules

On Saturday, February 25, 2006, the Disciplinary Board published amendments to the Rules of the Disciplinary Board to implement the Open System initiative adopted by changes to the Pennsylvania Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement announced on October 26, 2005. Click here for information on the Open System initiative.

Much of the rulemaking is devoted to harmonizing the language of the Rules of the Disciplinary Board with the terms of the Enforcement Rules. However, a few new provisions are included:

  • Section 93.102(g) is amended to provide that requests for copies of documents made available to the public are to be in writing, directed to the Office of the Secretary. A copying fee must be prepaid at the time of the request.
  • Section 93.102(h) states that copies of transcripts and exhibits introduced in hearings will not be available to the public. Transcripts may be obtained from the official reporter.
  • Section 93.103 states that the identity of a Hearing Committee member who reviews an Office of Disciplinary Counsel recommendation for action will not be available to the public, just as it is not available to the respondent-attorney.
  • Section 93.104(d) provides a list of additional restrictions on available documents, including:
    • Dismissed complaints
    • Pending but undisposed complaints, unless otherwise determined by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel with the concurrence of the Board Chair or Vice Chair;
    • Informal admonitions administered without formal proceedings; and
    • Informal admonitions or private reprimands administered more than six years before the request for access.
  • Section 93.106(b), regarding protective orders, provides that application for a protective order barring public access to a proceeding may be directed to and acted upon by the hearing committee. The Hearing Committee’s ruling on the application may be appealed to the Board, upon which the Hearing Committee may, at its discretion, stay hearing on the matter until the Board rules. In an official note, parties are urged to apply for protective orders at the time of the prehearing conference, to allow time for an appeal to the Board.

The amendments to the rules are published at 36 Pa.Bulletin 929.